Crowdfunding is all the local rage these days, so here's the latest effort you should check out: A move to restore part of the historic Ford Model T plant in Highland Park, a suburb within the city of Detroit.
The Model T plant, which is still standing in decent condition (note: I haven't been inside, but it will be a million times easier to restore this than, say, the Packard Plant*), is on Woodward Avenue in the business center of Highland Park.
Just earlier this week we talked about Woodward and whether the Dream Cruise should be extended further into Detroit and possibly into Highland Park and through Detroit again. One of the biggest hurdles for such an expansion is the condition of Woodward in Highland Park. While bookended by Detroit development on both sides (the renovation of Palmer Park apartment buildings to the north, and the spread of Midtown/New Center/North End development to the south), Highland Park sticks out like a sore thumb.
Having spent a great deal in Highland Park, both growing up visiting relatives there and briefly covering the Highland Park school district in my professional years, I've seen the ups and downs of Woodward through the years. There are plenty of storefronts and strip malls now, but there's still some dilapidated apartment buildings and that skin-crawlingly sketchy World Wide News adult film store that needs to be A-bombed in order to properly do away with the ungodly amount of bodily fluids probably caked in there. Restoring the plant would be just the kicker that stretch of Woodward needs to spur development from Eight Mile down to downtown.
The Woodward Avenue Action Association is looking for $5 donations from individuals, as the plant is the home to Henry Ford's $5-a-day wages paid to workers there. The nonprofit plans to renovate the administration building that fronts Woodward and the garage next to it. The funds will go toward purchasing the building; the group plans a separate fundraiser from private donors for renovation, according to Crain's.
The group already has $500,000 from the state's transportation department, $15,000 from the state's economic development funding arm and $10,000 of its own reserves, but is using the crowdfund to kick in the remaining $125,000. So far, more than $14,000 has been raised.
[Link via Crowdrise]
[*Speaking of the Packard Plant, the guy who wants to buy and renovate that is trying to broker a deal with the county before the site goes to auction. County officials sounded kind of optimistic.]